• United States
by Ann Harrison

Verizon fights back

Feb 11, 20032 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Verizon appeals against court order to identify P2P user

Verizon, which is being pressured by the music industry to reveal the identity of a suspected copyright infringer, is fighting back with every tool in its legal arsenal. The company has asked an appeals court to block a court order that would force it turn over the names of a Kazaa subscriber wanted by the Recording Industry Association of American for alleging trading hundreds of music files. 

District Judge John Bates has scheduled a hearing on Feb. 13 in Washington DC, to review Verizon’s request for a stay of his Jan. 21 order. Judge Bates gave the RIAA until Feb. 7 to respond to Verizon’s request to put his decision on hold, and gave Verizon until Feb. 11 to issue its reply. Verizon has also appealed Bates’ decision to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

The RIAA is seeking to use the power of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to force Verizon to turn over the name. Using the DMCA is a far easier way for the RIAA to assemble a hit list of P2P users than filing individual lawsuits.

This is a landmark case that pits the privacy rights of file traders against copyright laws. If Verizon fails to check the RIAA in the courts, the DMCA could be used for mass targeting of the P2P community.

Verizon says it will fight this “digital dragnet” that could, in theory, be used by any copyright holder.

Several groups are speaking out in support of Verizon including the Consumer Federation of America, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Consumer Alert, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and National Consumers League.

RIAA says it will oppose Verizon’s request for a stay. Let’s hope the Verizon legal team is primed for battle.